WORDS Kara Douglas

     Raf Simons embarked on his New York Fashion Week Men’s debut last night, presenting a collection with an amplified voice that spoke out about his dismay regarding the current political state of America. The collection embodied the independent, anarchistic attitudes of punk without the incorporation of signature punk aesthetics. A rather refreshing perspective to emerge this fashion season, amidst the tartan clad armies we've witnessed crowding the runway throughout previous weeks.

     Raf’s models were cinched at the waist with duct tape, embellished with politically challenging and empowering slogans such as “anyway out of this nightmare” and “walk with me”. The heavy polythene belting held together shapeless woollen knits and distinguished satin Crombie jackets, conveying a sense of shielding security. Whilst also paying homage to the DIY styling that manifests itself within the punk sub culture, as slack fitting silhouettes added an air of “borrowed from mom and dad” to the collection.

     Although heavily influenced by the political climate, Raf’s AW17 collection was originally birthed from the notion that it would be a love letter to New York. Simons took inspiration from the concept of what it’s like to visit the city for the very first time during his design process. This touristic, almost childlike naivety is portrayed throughout the collection, as loose knit jumpers hang off shoulders adorning “I <3 you” iconography, a sweet and nostalgic nod to the iconic I <3 New York merchandising that has swept the city for decades. These soft knits were contrasted with demure and distinctive plaid blazers, boot cut pants and whipstitched loafers to add some maturity and a soft hint of masculinity to the overall demeanour of each individual look.

    When you have a voice, you should use it and Raf succeeded in doing so, creating a collection that encompassed love and empowerment, boldly declaring that we will not be divided. Raf celebrated unity and stood up against intolerance through his youthful and explorative designs, providing us with a proud and pristine recreation of the modern man.